Thursday, May 22, 2014

Escape with my Besties

All moms should get away every once in a while. Away from kids, work, messy houses, husbands, and pretty much anything else that demands any bit of their time or energy.

Not to say that all of those things aren't worth it - they totally are - we wouldn't be here if they weren't all worth it. The Man is my rock and the thought of him not being in my life causes me great strife and sadness. My kids are my everything - I can't even begin to describe the type of all encompassing love I feel for them. But sometimes I just want to run away from all of them.  Does that sound bad? Maybe. Whatever.

They are demanding to me, just as I'm sure I'm demanding to them. And sometimes, I just want to run away and not be around anyone who is demanding anything from me. No dinners to cook, no stinky messes to clean up, no laundry to fold, no emails to answer, no packages to ship.

And that's when I escape with my Besties... even if just for a few hours.

Months and months ago, my Besties and I had planned to take last weekend off and go have a girls weekend. We hoped to be able to find a place where we could park our asses in the sand and have bottomless margarita glasses in our hands and laugh until our sides ached - for a full 48 hours. Unfortunately that didn't work out - we all ended up having commitments that didn't allow for us to run away for too long - but we did manage to sneak away for one blissful evening.

I wanted to see the sunset over Lake Okeechobee. It had been about 2 1/2 years since the last time I had ventured out to the Big O to watch the sunset with The Man and the kids and I'd been craving another sunset - this time with my Besties.

So, after we had all done all of the family things we had to do for the day (for me it was a flight with Young Eagles for Goober and a graduation party for my amazing nephew), my Besties and I met up. We packed up the car with chairs, cameras and refreshments and we headed west.

The laughter ensued before we had even gotten out of town. There is nothing like the silly, inappropriate, stupid laughter that can only come from four middle aged women who are free from their responsibilities for a few hours. Nothing.

It took about an hour and we reached my favorite sunset spot at Port Mayaca (anyone in the general vicinity of the eastern shore of the lake should venture over there one sunset - you will not be disappointed).  After a very frightening Thelma and Louise (and Thelma and Louise) moment where I was sure we were about to plummet off a small cliff into a feeder canal, we parked and dragged our crap down to the edge of the water.

After sitting in our chairs for exactly 2 minutes, we decided to climb down those rocks and on to the beach. I won't share the embarrassing photos we took of us trying to get down the rocks. I will just say that it was comical, but we made it with no injury.  Once arriving on the little beach, we discovered that it wasn't made of sand at all, but a trillion itty bitty shells.  We were so enamored with the shells that one or two of us may have scooped up a handful to bring home. Not me, just sayin. It's amazing to me how many little creatures there are in Lake Okeechobee that the entirety of the beach would be made up of their shells. Perfectly formed and untouched. They were beautiful. 
 After making some shell angels on the beach (ouch) and oohing and aahing about all of them, we actually sat and watched the sunset.
 And then we played with the timer on one of our cell phones so we could get pictures of all of us together.

About 5 minutes after this picture was taken the bugs came out and actually picked us up out of our chairs and dragged us to the car. We were literally making sure not to breathe heavy as they swarmed us. "Welcome to The Glades, Bitches" I think I heard one bug buzz into my ear.

Our drive back consisted of us getting just a little lost in a town called Canal Point (only a little lost because the whole town encompasses 1.5 square miles - seriously - Google it), laughing hysterically, a forced stop to pee on the side of State Road 80, and a little bit of indecency. It was everything it should have been and more.

We finished up the night by singing songs from our youth while drinking beer on the dock of a much, much smaller lake behind one Bestie's house. It was magical and very much needed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Go read someone else's blog.

I don't have anything for you today. Except a link. To this blog.

Stop whining and go read that.

I'm cleaning my house today.


Friday, May 16, 2014

If I just keep telling myself I'm going to do it - maybe it will really happen

It's starting to get hot down here in South Florida. Like - really hot. I know, everyone up north is all "Wah wah wah, aren't you the same bitch who was posting pictures of your sandy feet at the beach while we were scraping ice off of our windshields? Suck it."

But until you've received a third degree burn from your steering wheel and had sweat form a stain on your backside that makes people think you've had an accident, you don't understand the hot that is a South Florida summer.

With the heat comes two other gems that I love - the end of the school year and Hurricane Season.

I used to think Hurricane Season wasn't so bad. I mean, yeah, we might get some rain and some wind. We might lose power for a couple of hours. But no big deal.  That is until we experienced what will forever be known as The Hurricane Season From Hell.  It was 2004 and we boarded up our house not once, not twice, but three times that summer. We learned what it was to not have air conditioning in Florida, we learned what it was to have to grill every bit of meat in your freezer because it had all defrosted, we learned what it was to not have water and how to ration gas and how to drive in a world with no traffic lights (it's actually kind of awesome).

The next year brought us another nasty bitch called Hurricane Wilma who ripped all of the shingles right off of our roof and left us living in a world of buckets in strange areas of the house until we could get it repaired. I got to view our neighborhood from the top of our house while I helped The Man cover our sad roof in big tarps.

So now, every year, we hold our breath from June 1st to November 30th. We check TWC on a regular basis and we cringe at every alert that interrupts our regularly scheduled viewing.

About this time every year I decide I want to get the house all clean. I'll tell you what, it's a lot nicer to be stuck in a clean house with no air conditioning than a messy one. So every summer I vow that I'll get the house all cleaned up so if we do have to endure another hurricane, at least we'll get to do it in relative cleanliness and organization.

Except my house hasn't been really clean since 2007. I'm not kidding.

I mean, it's been presentable a few times - but only because I shoved everything in the garage or my bedroom or my office and closed the pantry door. If you looked close you would have found the nasty.

I'm a terrible housekeeper and my kids suck at doing chores. Like - they really, really suck and I'm really really terrible.  I'll pretty much do anything except for clean if I can get away with it.  I have great intentions - I want my house to be clean - but when it boils down to it I can't seem to make myself just do it.

But I'm going to this summer. I am. I AM!

I found a blog I fell in love with. And I've read a lot of it and I'm encouraged. I totally think I can do it with Nony's help. I'm just going to start slow and get it done. I am.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Where are those mom's dealing with acne, hormones, dating, and Axe Body Spray?

I spent a good portion of today perusing other blogs. I was looking for something to write about and it sort of worked... because I found something.

I discovered while perusing other blogs that the majority of parenting blogs are written by parents of young children. Mostly they seem to be kindergarten or younger age and nearly all are elementary school aged kids.  So as I read these blogs I couldn't help but think all those thoughts that parents who have older kids think when they hear parents of younger kids talk.

"Hah. You think they're expensive now."

"You just wait until they want to date."

And my head gets all smuggy and know-it-allie and whatever.  Some of these bloggers have even written books on the subject of parenting and I'm just wondering how you can write a book about fixing a car when all you've ever had to do was change the oil and put some gas in. Amirite? 

Whatev. I'm just jealous because I haven't published a book about anything. But really.

I wonder if parents just stop writing about their kids at a certain point because the kids are like

"Knock it off, Mom, I don't want to be on your blog anymore."

Or if there comes a point when life just stops being so much about the kids and parents start focusing more on other things. It's true when I first had kids I was ALL ABOUT THE KIDS ALL THE TIME. I mean, you kind of have to be. You have to watch them 100% of the time, you have to sleep with one ear open, they can't survive without you. Like, they'd die if you didn't make sure they kept themselves out of the middle of the road and stuff.

But now they're a lot more independent and I can think about other things.

Like friends... I have some now. It's nice because for a long time my whole world was contained within the square footage of our 4 bedroom ranch style home. My BFF Trish is in that stage right now where her life is fully contained in her home and revolves around her two young sons. I do not envy her. I miss her a lot, but I do not envy her.

And I can do other stuff that I care about - like paint. I like to paint. I'm not that great at it, but I enjoy it and it's something that I get to do that has absolutely nothing to do with my kids.

I mean, it's not like I don't take care of the kids anymore - I'm still their taxi driver, personal chef, and house slave - but with them having their own interests, I have a little more time for myself. 

But as my kids enter pre-adolescence, I wonder where those parenting blogs are that have older kids - kids going through the teenage years and early adulthood. I do know of a few and I love these ladies, but we do seem to be sorely under represented. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The one where I struggle with mindfulness - it could be a series.

Mindfulness is hard, y'all.

It's probably the single most important skill I need to have to be a successful human being and yet it's what I have the most trouble with.

Our society seems to glorify those that have mastered the art of multi-tasking. Doing just one thing at a time is so unproductive.  And I've fallen into that trap. While I'm grateful for my computer, it has seriously contributed to my attention issues.

I can be in the middle of writing a blog post and my email pops up.

"Hey Spaz - guess what? Someone's asking you something about shirts on Facebook." My computer sounds like Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused when it talks to me. Alright, alright.

Okay, okay. I know. Just let me finish writing this so I don't lose my train of thought.

"I don't know if you should hang on this, sweet thing. They seem pretty impatient. Unlike me. I'll wait for you all day."

Stop flirting Matthew McConaughey. It's been over between us for years. I've moved on.

And then I have to go over to Facebook to answer the question.

21 notifications? I really should check into those. But first I'll answer this question. Oh look, a puppy riding a bicycle!

And before I know it, I'm elbow deep in baby animals, gluten free recipes, and inspirational quotes; I haven't answered any questions and my potential customer already bought their Girl Scout shirts from some chick on Etsy; and I totally forgot what I was blogging about.

This is why I need to practice being mindful and why I thought Vesak Day was going to kick me into mindful overdrive.

It did not. I struggled. Social media down (for the most part), TV off (except for Real Housewives of OC on my lunch break), and focusing on one task at a time.

It was quiet. My head wandered. I got off-track. I faltered. I recentered. I focused. I lost my mind in the deafening quiet. At 3 pm I had to leave the house to pick Goober up from band practice and as I stepped outside into the dank South Florida humidity I felt as if I was being freed from a prison that was my own easily distracted head.

Waiting in the pick up line I clung to my phone and it's connection to social media. I facebooked, I tweeted, I felt my whole body exhale.

I'll get better. No one becomes enlightened overnight.

As an aside, there is an old Vesak tradition of setting captive animals free that I was pretty sure I just wasn't going to be able to participate in. Until our cat found a poor tail-less salamander in the house and decided to torture it. I've decided Mr. Salamander was tail-less before Smeagol got ahold of him yesterday, but I'm probably (definitely) fooling myself. I managed to get Smeagol to drop the poor little guy and I trapped him under a cup and used the old "slide the piece of paper under the cup" trick to take him, the paper, and the cup outside. Be free, Mr. Salamander! Happy Vesak Day to you!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Happy Vesak Day!

Today is Vesak Day in most of the world (it is celebrated on different days in different parts of the world due to variations in the lunar cycle - but since no one is telling me different, I'm going with today).

What is Vesak Day, you might wonder? Well, I'm glad you asked.

In a nutshell, today we celebrate Buddha's birthday. But it's so much more than that. Today commemorates the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of Siddharta Gautama. In countries where Buddhism is the major religion, this is a big deal. Like Christmas. Except for not at all like Christmas. Not even a little bit.

Today is the first year I will celebrate Vesak Day and I'm really looking forward to it. It's an opportunity for me to reconnect with myself and my beliefs and push closer to becoming the person I truly want to be.

I will celebrate Vesak today by rededicating myself to Buddhism and bringing myself back to mindfulness throughout the day. Today will be a vegetarian day and I will consume no alcohol or any other mind altering substances. Because today is about being mindful and you can't be mindful if you're half in the bag.

Today I will focus on cleaning my home, giving Buddha a bath (he really needs one), and keeping my head in my tasks. I will be staying away from distracting social media and the TV will remain off.

It's a sharp contrast from how we celebrate most holidays, isn't it? While most Western holidays have morphed into a sticky mess of consumerism and overindulgence, Vesak Day is almost the complete opposite - which I find absolutely refreshing.

I'll report later about how it goes with Vesak today. I'm excited to spend the day in mindfulness.

Monday, May 12, 2014

And now for something completely different - The Spaz discovers Iggy Azalea

**Note to Dad (because I think you might be the only one reading) - Don't click on any of the links, you won't like them. :) Love you!**

I am a product of the 90's.

I turned 13 in February of 1990 and had my first child in December of 1999. Literally, the entire decade encompassed freedom for me.

I embraced all great fads of the 90s. From NWA to Nirvana, Guess Jeans to my dad's old flannel shirts, K Swiss to Converse, Manic Panic to my tongue piercing, Adidas to Polo Sport, Clearly Canadia to Zima, and my little purple pager to my Nokia 5110 - I was a 90's kid.

And as a female coming of age in the 90s, it stands to reason that even at 37 years old I would find Clueless to be one of the greatest movies of all time. Much like the generation that followed mine latched on to Mean Girls with a passion, my generation loves Clueless. What teenage girl in the 90s didn't want to be Cher Horowitz? With her perfect blonde hair, blissful ignorance, and fat allowance, she was arguably the most enviable character of her time. I'd still like to be Cher Horowitz. (Side note, when in college I discovered that Clueless was actually based on Jane Austen's Emma my mind was officially blown.)

So, when I was flipping through channels the other day and noticed this video - I had to stop and watch. (Note: strong language)

When I showed The Man this video his remarks were "She's cute until she opens her mouth."

Iggy Azalea is cute. And this particular song is catchy and wins my heart with the Clueless remake. Me being me had to look further into Iggy to see what else she had done. It's been a long time since I've been up and up on what's new in the rap world and Iggy's music isn't exactly what I would normally listen to, but something intrigued me about her so I looked further.

I found out that Iggy Azalea was born as Amethyst Amelia Kelly and grew up in a little town in Australia called Mullumbimby. She lived in a house literally made from mud bricks that her father built. At 15 she dropped out of high school, choosing instead to work and save money by cleaning hotels and vacation houses with her mother. 

At 16 she hopped on a plane bound for Miami by herself. BY HERSELF. And never looked back. 

The mother in me felt my heart leap into my throat when I read that. If one of my babies got on a plane at 16 years old and flew literally to the other side of the world without me, I would crumble into a puddle of worry and heartbreak. 

But Iggy had a dream to be a rapper and maybe it was her youthful optimism and ignorance - but dammit, she did it. And whether you have respect for young rappers and that lifestyle or not, I will always have respect for someone who chases their dreams and doesn't give up until they've achieved them.

It makes a lot of the crap I complain about seem pretty petty when I think of her with "no money, no family, 16, in the middle of Miami."

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Here's to not giving a rat's ass.

I came across this blog today and before I had even really started reading I stopped in my tracks at one paragraph.

"I feel absolutely no obligation to be aesthetically pleasing to others.  Oh don’t get me wrong, it is always nice when someone refers to me as beautiful, but I don’t feel it defines me or adds any value to me as a person.   Now admittedly, mostly women are expected to be beautiful, or at least aspire to beauty.  Women are often seen as prizes or trophies measured by their beauty.  I want more from my life than being aesthetically pleasing."

I want to read it again and again because I think it's a message I need more than ever.

I've reached a point in my life where I'm not young. Sure, compared to some people I'm "young" in years, but I'm beginning to notice things about myself that are decidedly not young person things.  I have gray hair. Lots of it. I shudder to think what my head would look like if I stopped dying my hair. My body aches - sometimes for no apparent reason. Fillings in my teeth just fall out sometimes. They just get old and crumble right out. I need glasses. Now, I've always needed glasses or contacts - but now I really need them. I used to be able to compensate my way around if I didn't have them. Now I stumble around blind looking for them.  Most of all, I can't lose weight like I used to be able to. I've always been chunky, but since I've been on this side of 30 I just can't seem to use some crash diet to lose 10 pounds anymore. So I just keep getting fatter.

Fat has stopped me from doing lots of things. It stops me from wanting to reconnect with old friends who remember me in my younger, thinner days. It stops me from wanting to meet new people. It stops me from going on adventures, from sitting in questionable chairs, from going roller skating with my kids. I'm working hard to stop letting it stop me from doing things. Because I do want more from my life than being aesthetically pleasing. I'm worth more than that and those people that get to know me don't give a damn how much I weigh or whether my hair is gray or whether I took the time to put on mascara. Those are the people that matter.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Spaz reflects on being a Girl Scout Leader

As I've mentioned before, I'm a Girl Scout leader. I never really intended to be a Girl Scout leader, actually. When little 1st grade Munchkin and I went to her school for the Girl Scout round-up so she could become a Brownie, I remember distinctly there were leaders there trying to recruit new leaders from the pool of mothers that showed up with their eager little girls.

I thought to myself "No way in hell."

We signed all the paperwork and paid some dues and in a few weeks we got a call from a wonderful lady saying that Munchkin was going to be in her troop and that we were going to meet and all that jazz.

For the first few years while Munchkin was a Brownie, I was a helpful mom to the troop. I got registered and I drove the girls places in my minivan and I handed out stuff at meetings and I tried not to get in the way.

And then just before the girls were about to start 4th grade, I got a call from that same wonderful lady, who I had gotten to know by that time, saying if someone (me) didn't step up and help her out with this troop that the troop would have to disband.

"Do I have time to think about it?"

And that was that.

It's been almost 4 years since I got that call and I can honestly say that being a Girl Scout leader is one of the most rewarding, wonderful things I've ever done. I've had the opportunity to get to know these amazing girls - each with their own little personalities and joys and struggles. I've been so lucky to watch them grow from little girls to beautiful young ladies. Saying yes to this is a decision I will never regret.

In the past 4 years my co-leaders and I have been more active than your average troop. We've planned multiple events for our service unit, badge parties, and camps. We've spent hours, days, months pouring our hearts into making activities awesome for our troop and the other troops that attend our events. Our houses are messy, our husbands are exasperated, and our children need their mothers back.

So last weekend we hosted our last event - a Hunger Games Training Camp for our council. We had 12 troops come and compete and it was absolutely awesome. The girls who came were age 11 and up and it was really great to get to work with the older girls who have stuck with scouts past the time when a lot of girls move on to do other things. Every single girl I had the opportunity to work with last weekend was a pleasure to speak with. They were kind, they were polite, they were easy-going and friendly. They were strong and outspoken and confident in themselves.

This event was almost a year in the making and it took more planning than any other one we've ever put on, but it was worth every hour and every tear we put into it. The girls had a great time and they learned so much about themselves and what they could accomplish. My co-leaders are truly amazing and I could not be more lucky to get to work with them.

But now we're hanging up our event hats and just going back to having our troop and focusing on what our girls need to get out of Girl Scouts and what our girls need to get from their moms. Our girls are going into 8th grade this year and some of them will complete their Silver Award and continue on with Girl Scouts and some of them will move on to other interests. I'm so proud of all of them. I'm happy to be starting a new chapter with them, but sad to leave that old one behind. Change is bittersweet.